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Library Architecture: Into the Future

By Maria Lorena Lehman — Get more articles like this sent to your email HERE.

Image Credit: © pnoeric | Flickr


As data is being “stored” and “networked” in the digital age, some people question the future of library architecture. Two leading questions are as follows:

  • “How will the library evolve?
  • “Will the library (as we know it today) become obsolete?”

Most present-day libraries help to foster a sense of community with an emphasis on learning where people can interact, explore, study and research. However, the library is evolving (as most institutions do) and its future is bound to transform what we know about how libraries operate today.

The library will not become obsolete, but it will evolve.


How architects incorporate design elements like light, materiality or even nature may change, but such essentials will most always be considered as future libraries develop. What we, as architects, should be asking is…

  • How can innovative library architecture contribute to how, when and where we come together to access information?
  • What form(s) will that information take?
  • How will we make sense of such information?

As the “digital” combines with the “networked”, libraries could make deeper levels of information more accessible — transcending the internet. You see, innovative libraries could help individuals discover and learn in ways that go beyond what the internet and social media are providing today.


Innovative libraries can foster many face-to-face encounters that the internet does not currently provide. Libraries can bring together the best of both worlds — the “everywhere-ness” of the internet plus the “face-to-face-ness” of a community center. In the end, innovative libraries would redefine how visitors study, interact, explore and learn — all key ingredients to what makes a good library design.

The library of tomorrow will take new form, redefining how we all come together to make sense of information that is “everywhere”.


what members are saying...
Maria: I came across your website through a reference in today's Architect Weekly ezine and am delighted I did. I'll bookmark your site and check back often. I read the first article and then the second and thirty minutes later realized how much time had passed. I've been practicing for thirty years and have always missed the stimulation of academia. I find each of your brief dissertations sort of like a day in design studio. Thanks for the inspiration.

Ron Ward
AI Group Design
I am excited to see you touch a vein of values in architecture, I have been chasing myself for years. Your depth of involvement in these very deep subjects is really beautiful and passionately dealt with and well written. Sound, color and value, shape, texture, scale, smell.... all definitive measures of the spaces we should be alert to. [...] I will savor the rest of your investigation of sensuality in architecture. I'm Glad I found you.

Dennis McLaughlin
McLaughlin Architect
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Maria Lorena Lehman is a multi award-winning visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Tech and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. CLICK HERE to learn more.

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